Pen pals are writing friends who exchange letters or emails on a regular basis. Although pen pals can live in the same country, they can also be from different cultures and might even speak different languages. At American Language Communication Center, our English classes offer many opportunities for students to improve their English writing skills. Students can practice outside of class by writing to other English speakers.
Strengthen Language Skills
When writing a letter or an email, students have to form sentences in the mind before writing them down on paper or before typing them. This process helps to strengthen language skills because the process is actually more in-depth than just speaking words. Because writing words takes more time than speaking them, students are also forced to slow down a little and really think about what they are saying.
Writing phrases provides repetitive practice that students need to become more fluent and comfortable speaking. English learners can also write or type at their own pace instead of trying to keep up with a conversation, which can be less stressful. Many people taking English classes appreciate getting this practice without the audience that comes with having a conversation with someone else.
Connecting Words with Meanings
Connecting words and phrases with meanings takes time. The more ways the brain hears and sees these words, the faster and stronger the connections are made. A general rule is that it may take hearing a word 30 or more times before the brain recognizes it enough to begin using the word correctly. Writing letters to a pen pal can help because students can write about the things they have experienced, which connects the words emotionally. It can be easier to remember the words describing something that happened than remembering how to describe a made up situation or story.
Teachers of English classes that incorporate pen pals recommend that students save a copy of every letter or email sent. After a few months of learning has gone by, students can reread the letters emails to see the progress they have made. Mistakes are often very apparent when rereading early letters, and students will usually recognize them easily. It can boost as student’s confidence to see how far they’ve come in a short time, motivating them to strive even further.
Learning English can be challenging, but it’s easy to find new and fun ways to practice language skills. Connecting with others by writing to them is just one way to practice outside of English classes.